When he takes to the course on July 7, CJ Mackey will do so with a smile, but he will also know that there is a whole lot more to the day than birdies and bogies.

As a member of the Golf “Fore” Heroes Tournament committee, Mackey has been a part of organizing the annual tournament to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, which has now raised over $17,000 since 2016.

This year’s tournament will tee off on July 7 at Pine Acres Country Club in Bradford, PA.

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Mackey decided to partner with the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation this year to take the tournament’s impact to the next level.

“We [Golf “Fore” Heroes] had been searching for a 501(c)(3) status for a while now because we as a group had a tax identity number but did not have a nonprofit status,” Mackey said. “So over time it became more challenging as businesses wanted to sponsor the tournament but their business structures would not allow it.”

As Mackey was looking into the process of making Golf “Fore” Heroes into a 501(c)(3), a friend suggested he look to the Community Foundation for help as a fund at the Foundation falls under the umbrella of its 501(c)(3) status.

“So I went to meet with Karen (CRCF Executive Director), and just about that day I knew it was the right fit and decided to get the fund going,” Mackey added.

The tournament’s success is important because, as Mackey knows, for many, the Wounded Warrior cause is all-too personal.

He was serving on the Pine Acres Country Club board of directors when Robert Mitchell approached the club in the summer of 2015 with the opportunity to host the tournament.

Mitchell’s ties to Wounded Warrior Project began in in 2008 when he was injured in the line of duty while serving in Iraq. Supplies and essentials from WWP helped Mitchell through his recovery process then and again in 2010 after another injury.

While still serving, Mitchell decided to become cadre for a Warrior Transition Unit where he was responsible for the care of wounded soldiers. During this time, he saw WWP help so many other wounded soldiers just the way it helped him.

When he returned to Bradford, Mitchell decided he could continue to help fellow injured soldiers through his passion of golf.

Mackey saw the importance of the cause and has served as tournament committee co-chair since 2016.

“I never served, but it’s something that I have the highest regard for,” Mackey added. “I do not think that you have to wear a uniform to serve, and that is part of what we are trying to do here, which is to give back to our veterans, whether we are someone like Rob who did active duty and is making this his next mission, or we are someone who says ‘well, this is our opportunity now to help and give back.’”

CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit said it was easy for the Foundation to decide to support such a cause and such a hard-working and passionate tournament committee.

“I think that what CJ and Rob do is very noble and very important,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “For Rob the cause is obviously personal, but CJ has taken on the cause and it has grown into a passion as well.

“Together they work very hard to provide support and opportunities to those who have given so much to all of us by serving.”

More details about registration and sponsorships can be found at golfforeheroes.com.

Donations can be made to the Golf “Fore” Heroes Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, or online at cattfoundation.org.

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email foundation@cattfoundation.org, or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).